Kenya can export more than 30,000 tonnes of gum

Farmers in drier areas have been asked to grow gum and resin producing trees to bridge the global demand gap.

Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) Director Ben Chikamai says the current supply is 30,000 short of the global demand of gum and resin.

Gums and resins are used in making food additives, pharmaceuticals, print paints, among other products.

“There is great demand for the products standing at 100,000 metric tonnes whilst the current supply is 70,000. There is immense opportunity to fill this gap,” the director says.

Gums and gum resins are harvested from comiphorra, boswellia, steruculia and acacia trees, which still do well arid and semi arid areas.

Th gum is harvested in form of opoponax, myrr and franchincense.

A recent report by the Transparency market Research says the rising demand for paints is also driving the demand for the gums and resin.

Recently, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Judi Wakhungu said plans are underway to straighten commercialisation challenge facing the poorly developed sector.

The main one has been lack of proper policy guiding exploitation and sale of the crop, leaving many growers vulnerable to middlemen who have links to international markets.

Kenya earned Sh850 million in 2013 after Isiolo, Marsabit Garissa, Moyale, Samburu, Mandera, Turkana and Wajir counties exported 3,000 metric tonnes of gums and resins.

On average, one tonne of gum resin can fetch Sh100,300, translating to about Sh103 per kilogramme.

The trees do not need a lot of husbandry.